Captain’s Log Week #8 Shows Evidence of Calming

IAB Canada presented its third wave of reporting on the impact of Covid-19 to digital advertising budgets in Canada this week during a Community Uninterrupted session. The report was launched at the onset of Covid-19 to capture quick snapshots around the buy-side outlook for the coming weeks. We would like to express our thanks to the blue ribbon buy-side panel for continuing to review our reporting for accuracy and enhancing it with on-the-ground commentary.

While the results remained broadly consistent with previous waves, where we continue to find ourselves in a ‘live’ situation, the general frequency around strategic discussions and movement has come down in frequency as most brands have decided on appropriate courses of action.

Still, over 80% say digital budgets reduced, paused or delayed etc. with very few cancelled outright (8%).

Audio and Paid Search are least affected ad formats at 45% and 59% respectively while other formats range between 63-78%, led again by Programmatic Display and the hardest hit categories include Travel, Financial Services, Retail, Automotive and brands that are not eCommerce enabled.

We reported that the main ongoing causes of cutbacks include cash flow concerns and creative reassessment.

Lastly, 73% reported that there are more reductions anticipated in the coming weeks which was down from 83% in wave 2. Most anticipated a delay in full recovery till Sept-Dec. 2020 or later.

We hosted a lively discussion with an esteemed group of panelists to scratch underneath the surface of the numbers. Participants in the “Captain’s Log” conversation included Tracy Ball, Manager, Programmatic Marketing Lead, Home Depot Canada, Joanne Crump, VP Integrated Media, Active International, Fil Lourenco, VP of Digital Media, Havas Media Canada and Gah-Yee Won, Director, Global Media & Marketing Science, Scotiabank.

The panel concurred that news was starting to turn slightly more to the positive which bodes well for brands to re-engage in broader display tactics. We were encouraged to hear that a general trend towards brand building and top funnel activity was starting to become apparent. This was cited as a priority given that many brands moved towards similar messaging in the first weeks of the crisis creating a sea of sameness in terms of brand purpose and identity. It appears that brands are coming back to themselves and developing their unique narratives based on their core strengths which were temporarily swept aside to jump into emergency-mode.

Another insight from the discussion was the importance of staying in lockstep with the changing mental states of consumers over the coming weeks. Brands are looking deeper into behavioral data and feedback to better understand what messages will resonate and how to calibrate as we move down the curve.

We very much look forward to the next wave and hope for continued trending.